“Self-Maintainless Self—Female” by Henry Replogle

The following was published in Georgia and Henry Replogle’s journal Egoism (1890). Volume 4, number 1 was published in September, 1897. Henry wrote a similar article for “Males” in the previous issue, previously published on this blog.


Self-Maintainless Self—Female.

In the way of strong weaknesses, next to man’s overpowering lonesomeness is woman’s dread of responsibility. So long have the pamperings of an evolutionary epoch of artificiality reacted upon the incapacitation of her breeding function that her marrow dread of economic responsibility leads her to take chance on almost any servility that carries with it promise of exemption from facing the task of gorging the bottomless hopper. If somebody will but act as spokesman—advance agent—manager, she may be environed into service the drudgery of which would in wages keep her in comfort many times over, and the incidental heroism of which would immortalize her in any other capacity. And she will do it all for her board and clothes, and such board and clothes as would not do at all were she working against account.

If this seems absurd let us seek what of verification we can from the ridiculous facts of the animal in motion. Beginning at that period when she goes into more serious activity than to be seen—the stage at which she has acquired all the size and shape that brings the highest bid of venereous dilettantism, we may see through the analytic gaze much more of instruction to this point than of pleasant contemplation. Posing at the exit of a superuselessness and the scene of as super a discontent, she feels generally in each individual case, that she is in the special favor of fate—the lucky number—the one among all the rest, to whom the great things of contemporaneous existence are to come.—Not by reason of some reason, but just because it is she. She of course permits proximity of parents and other members of the family, but so do diamonds the same of earth before they bedazzle the light in their bosom function. However, while waiting enmingle with these clods for a distinction to match her, she strikes phosphureted timber of another kind, and the beacon of her particular destiny is lighted. A young male has ogled at her shape and color, and being lensed in aphrodisiac concavo-convex, sees her not as father, mother, and brother have seen her and as she is : a. skinful of heiferish whims, absurdity and churlishness, but as a kaleido subject of flattery. This, for one who in the unanalytical egotism of desire has been waiting and waiting to be discovered, is pleasant, faith-inspiring, and at once makes a hero of what should be a fool, and a destiny of what should be, if anything, a mere incident. The brutal and unappreciative family dolts who have been her criticism and communal cross, now sink at best into the insignificance of furniture or at worst, unavoidable evils to be borne until that day !—the day when she shall string upon her body woven fabric of such importance and consideration that the hand that earned it is of none. Her mind is totally absorbed in focus upon that day when she shall be the riveted associate of the ” only ” male, and shall be the president of piles of new furniture. As to great things for her, one is already in sight, and in partnership with such a source, what may not follow To be sure they will now be ours instead of mine, but what will not the showering tribute and devout worship of her hero make even.

At last the day, that day of all days comes and the furniture and presiding follow, so also do some incidents and surprises. For, while she was dreaming of appearing equipment and associate glory, a bleached-out gorilla was gloating upon the hour of white warm flesh and shape and exclusive possession, all innocent of the surprise, curiosity, and at best forbearance, which would constitute the reciprocity of his vision. Such ravenous intensity; such boundless enthusiasm, and such unassuagable desire are to her pulpy experience a surprise, at best a curiosity, and easily a disappointment if not a positive fright. But still this curious prepossessed passion continues, and curiosity wears into forbearance which in its turn widens and thickens into an enveloping gloom that leaves the presiding among apartment furniture a hollow sham and an envy of the president by virtue of its hollow condition. And this is whereby there are by addition worse things in store than this forbearance. Wretched symptoms of deranged digestion and hysteric nerves assert themselves, making up of daylight wake even, a nightmarish half delirium which no one besides the victim can properly deprecate, and she like a man to be hanged, is there all over and to endure it alone. With mental posit unhardened by experience and unsupported by either induction or philosophy, she must encounter all these strange forebodings and nervous caprices, and finally, as partial consequence for an act that brought her no more incidental pleasure perhaps than would the serving of a cup of tea, she must take her life, hopes and potential destiny in her hand and go to death’s door. And here is the incident that would in any other capacity immortalize her. For if the instance of devotion in which Pythias took his life in his hand to convenience Damon should immortalize him, there is enough of the same risk in proportion to benefit derived to do the same for her, should she jeopardize her life for another’s pleasure in any other function.

But all this is only getting ready to pay the price for support, that in wages would keep her many times over. If she has been functioning as housekeeper worth fifteen dollars and board per month, she must now add to it that of nurse, worth several dollars more. She must prepare the breakfast often with one hand while the other arm supports the baby, else her nerve-racked ears must support its space-splitting squalls. If she be in the country, she must then manage to milk the cows, wash the dishes, do the chamber work, prepare the vegetables for the noon meal and cook it. After noon it is more wash dishes, take care of baby and look out for the evening meal. Then, somewhere, sandwiched or piled upon all this regular cooking, milking, dishwashing and nursing, she must manage to wash and iron the week’s wear of clothes, bake bread, pies, cake, and do the necessary sewing of clothes for the family. On Sunday to begin with there is usually an extra treat of anatomy wanted, and following, frequently extra cooking and meal service for entertainment of visitors. Now she does in addition to all the other service, the presiding act with “grace and dignity,” just as creditably as her husband’s dog, mules and machinery attest his excellent equipment. Some way, under, over, through all this she drags weary and nervous to bed, still retaining something of the original shape of person that won her this distinction. And this shape, by virtue of its shape alone and regardless of the unreciprocal exhaustion inside of it, always excites aphrodisia in the unaccountable skull of the extinguishing distinguisher. Then she must again encounter all the wretched inconvenience, horror and peril she has just gone through, with the nursing function added to that of housekeeping and mistress. And by this time, the water-coloring of youth having faded from the skin, and the lymphatic pulp having drained from under it, there is no more idolatrous toying about the venereous function, but real viscus response only will do. And while all this is draining as the years drag along, she must manage to governess two or three children while handicapped by the ever-present babe in arms, and dispatch ever more and more manual duties. Soon she is earning a thirty-five dollar wage as cook, laundress and chambermaid, and ten dollars as nurse, and something as governess, as well as the price commanded by the general management for a house equipped with all these functions in their several persons. So she earns several times her board, and what in current wages would pay her from seven to ten hundred dollars per year, and does it all for her board and clothes during the time she is rendering the service.

This is only the economic aspect of the case, considering nothing of the bickerings, recrimination, gloom and despair incident to a yoke of such heterogeneity. It includes no canvass of the torture of undesired sexual submission by a weary and nerve-torn body; of wasting flesh and the light of life going hopelessly and helplessly out; of the horror of consciously sliding unsuccored and even condemnedly into the grave, or else to the leathery ossification of the squaw with its cruder and supersenile existence. Neither does it enumerate the regrets that must shower every trial, nor the quivering heart-wringings of solicitude for the welfare of each of the over-many, unwelcome and often malpotent offspring. And, finally, it dwells not on the rational purpose of life: the greatest pleasure and the least pain that intelligence and wisdom can maintain; on that the wisdom which in Egoistic serenity discriminates, and evades useless complications, spending its energy in fruitful projections, is as legitimate and creditable in existence-policy as the self-exploiting folly that turns its bowels out to its environment and disappears as the devoured viand instead of remaining as the viand connoisseur.

So, if our typical self-maintainless female’s career is at last not marked by a marble slab with chiseled sentiments on it, we find her leather-cured, warp-featured, pain-creased and barren of every possibility except the rendings of solicitude for her foolhardy brood preoccupied by anything besides consideration for the remnant of a life that has as helplessly, ruthlessly—fatefully gone into their ungrateful benefit as ever did a seed into a plant. She has at all times earned more than she consumed, and in addition administered to a foreign passion which in an open mistress market would have heaped her over with luxury. In consequence of this she has had to go down to death’s door—not as the warrior or specialist goes, armed with the surity of strength and skill which may keep death at bay, but in the way that severs one after another strand of life’s cable with no assurance that the last one will not part as the rest have. One ordeal over, she has risen again weaker and confronted with more cares and burden than before. Through these she has scrutinized details and adapted means to general ends in a way that would do credit to a railroad management, and in the chin-deep of it all again and again laid her down to cope the cold monster, well knowing the slavery of victory and yet dreading the oblivion of defeat.

Would she find herself in a less enviable position if she had before dropping from the parental stern, disassociated her importance from her subjective longings long enough to look about her and see what others were doing and why, then thought her the little idea of serving from her drudgery a wage into her own locker with which to buy her own furniture to preside among for herself. Would she feel less content at forty-five years with a sound and comely body, cultivated mind, and in her own home with only one or two children and with still much possibility of accomplishment and its agreeable sensations, than she is as we find her. These are the superimpressive questions that the situation posits and answers simultaneously for the adult just through or going through. And what would be of more effective importance would be that these questions be asked by those purposing to go one or the other ways. Will they be asked. No. What is then, the worthwhile of this warning. Why, having warned and done all in my power to prevent the sympathy-tearing sight when young heedless dashes against the rocks, I can feel the satisfaction of justified indifference instead of pity, and that is to be the great accomplishment of the hence Ego.

I now submit the proposition that Self Maintainless Self—Female, cultivate the accomplishment of being her own manager and thereby her own, own.

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